Cata­lan leader faces mount­ing pres­sure from all sides

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

Puigde­mont has un­til Mon­day to clar­ify if he de­clared in­de­pen­dence

Cat­alo­nia’s leader faced mount­ing pres­sure Fri­day from all sides, with hard-lin­ers in the sep­a­ratist move­ment de­mand­ing he defini­tively de­clare in­de­pen­dence from Spain. Spain’s gov­ern­ment and the Euro­pean Union, on the other hand, in­sisted he must aban­don the re­gion’s se­ces­sion plans.

For Spain, Car­les Puigde­mont sim­ply has to say one of two words in his re­sponse. “It’s just a yes or a no,” Saenz de San­ta­maria said af­ter a weekly Cab­i­net meet­ing.

“It’s in Puigde­mont’s hands” to avoid the ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures that would al­low cen­tral au­thor­i­ties a par­tial or full sus­pen­sion of the pros­per­ous re­gion’s au­ton­omy, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter So­raya Saenz de San­ta­maria said.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment has given Puigde­mont a Mon­day dead­line to make clear whether he has al­ready de­clared in­de­pen­dence for the re­gion and to fall in line with Spain’s laws by Oct. 19 if he wants to avoid los­ing some or all of the re­gion’s au­ton­o­mous pow­ers.

If Puigde­mont says he did de­clare in­de­pen­dence, then he will have three more days to can­cel any se­ces­sion plans. If he re­fuses to, or doesn’t an­swer, Ra­joy has threat­ened to trig­ger for the first time a con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cle that could give cen­tral au­thor­i­ties power to in­ter­vene di­rectly in Cat­alo­nia.

The Na­tional Cata­lan As­sem­bly, or ANC, a civil so­ci­ety group that or­ga­nized mas­sive protests in sup­port of se­ces­sion, is­sued a brief state­ment with a sim­i­lar mes­sage.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep the sus­pen­sion of the in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion” given Madrid’s re­jec­tion of any di­a­logue, ANC said in the state­ment.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker joined the ap­peal for Cata­lan sep­a­ratists to drop their se­ces­sion bid. While the con­flict is a Span­ish is­sue, it could af­fect the EU by en­cour­ag­ing other places with am­bi­tions of in­de­pen­dence, he said. “I wouldn’t like a Euro­pean Union that in 15 years con­sists of 98 states,” Juncker said in Lux­em­bourg. “It’s al­ready pretty dif­fi­cult with 28.”

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